Peppermint Leaf Extract
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Peppermint leaf extract (Mentha Piperita)
Peppermint is a popular flavoring for gum, tea and toothpastes. The main active agent in peppermint is menthol. Peppermint leaf extract produces a cooling effect and has also made its way into popular cuisines.
The Peppermint plant grows to be roughly 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves come into bloom from July to August. The leaves are dark green and fragrant and grow opposite white flowers. This plant grows very well in moist locations and expands very quickly. The real natural peppermint rarely produces seeds. The wild form of the peppermint leaf is not suitable for consumption. Peppermint flowers produce large amounts of nectar and varietal honey can be produced from them.
History and Origin
The plants of the genus mentha are numerous and this makes it very difficult to identify and distinguish the origin within the species. However mint has been known and appreciated since antiquity. Its name is derived from the name of a nymph called Minthe. Pluto, the ruler of the underworld, seduced this nymph. He turned the nymph into a seedling (mint) blessing it such that people would appreciate her fragrance for years to come. Evidence has it that Egyptians cultivated mint. Romans revered it so much that they introduced it from southern Europe to other areas of Europe. However it was first put to human use in England.
There is archaeological evidence that peppermint leaf extract has been used as far back as ten thousand years. Traditional medical practitioners believed that it improved brain functioning. Peppermint tea leaf extract has been used in teas for many centuries. This peppermint tea helped cure indigestion. It also was used to treat cramping caused due to an irritable colon. This is a remedy that has its origin in ethnic medicinal practices. Peppermint leaf extract was also used to cure rheumatism and spasms by relaxing the muscles.
Peppermint leaf extract is known to calm the stomach muscles and improve the flow of bile that is needed to digest fats. This enables food to pass through the stomach more quickly and aides in curing indigestion. The herbal properties in the peppermint leaf extract relax painful stomach muscles and enable painful digestive gas to pass off easily, thereby curing bloating and flatulence. The Peppermint leaf extract is high in menthol, and therefore has a soothing and cooling effect on a person’s skin. This cooling effect helps to cure various skin irritations and itching that is more common during the summer months. Peppermint leaf extract is rich is menthol which is an excellent decongestant. Menthol acts as an expectorant too by thinning the mucus and helping to expel it out. It is extremely soothing for sore throats and for people suffering with Colds and the flu. Scientific studies have been conducted to prove that a small amount of Peppermint leaf extract applied locally to a person’s temples and forehead can help reduce tension headaches.
Taking peppermint leaf extract in normal amounts is safe. However consumption in large amounts by pregnant and nursing women should be avoided at all costs. Herbs are said to interfere with the absorption of other medicines and should be taken well in advance. Peppermint relaxes the sphincter muscles thereby increasing the risk of heartburn or aggravating the problem of indigestion. Studies show that large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Menthol or peppermint oil when applied directly to the skin can cause rashes.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan